WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Starbucks stirred the political pot Wednesday by urging its baristas to write "come together" on its cups as a way to pressure U.S. lawmakers to compromise on a deal to avert a year-end fiscal crisis.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said the American coffee giant is recommending its first-ever message on the side of tall, grande and venti (small, medium and large) drinks sold at its Washington, D.C., stores as a way to help break the capital's gridlock on the so-called "fiscal cliff."

"As many of you know, our elected officials in Washington, D.C., have been unable to come together and compromise to solve the tremendously important, time-sensitive issue to fix the national debt," Schultz said in a letter posted on the Starbucks website.

"Rather than be bystanders, we have an opportunity -- and I believe a responsibility -- to use our company's scale for good by sending a respectful and optimistic message to our elected officials to come together and reach common ground on this important issue."

Lawmakers and the White House have less than a week to work out a deal aimed at preventing tax hikes from hitting all Americans and a series of deep, mandated spending cuts from kicking in beginning Jan. 1.

Economists warn that failure to agree to a new deficit-reduction deal could tilt the U.S. economy back into recession.

President Barack Obama and members of Congress return to Washington Thursday after a Christmas break.

There are more than 50 Starbucks stores in downtown Washington alone, including about a dozen within a three-block radius of the White House.

One Starbucks some two blocks from the presidential mansion had "Come Together" written on a slip of paper taped to the counter, but some of the drinks were being handed to customers without the message scribbled on the cups.

For more news on the fiscal cliff, click here.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012